Immigration Law

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does a person qualify to sponsor their parent or grandparent to Canada?

    In addition to being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, a sponsor must be over 18 and must reside in Canada. Sponsors who live outside of Canada and sponsors who are under 18 do not qualify.

    Sponsors must also make what is called a “minimum necessary income”. If the sponsor does not make the minimum necessary income, the sponsor may get a co-sponsor for the application. If the total income of the sponsor and co-sponsor is over the minimum necessary income, the person will qualify as a sponsor.

  • What is the current minimum necessary income for sponsorship?

    To apply as a sponsor, you must show that you have maintained an income for the last 3 years that would allow you to support any dependants you have, as well as the people you wish to sponsor.

    For people who applied in 2023, the minimum income numbers were as follows:

    • 2 persons: $44,530
    • 3 persons: $54,743
    • 4 persons: $66,466
    • 5 persons: $75,384
    • 6 persons: $85,020
    • 7 persons: $94,658
    • More than 7 persons: for each additional person, add $9,636

    For instance, if you are single, have 2 children aged 11 and 14, and are trying to sponsor your mother and father, the number of “persons” would be 5. As a result, the minimum necessary income would be $75,384.

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  • How does the government calculate the minimum necessary income I have to make?

    Every year, the Government of Canada publishes the minimum necessary income figures on the basis of the number of dependants you have. A dependant includes your spouse plus your children under 22.

    The number of dependants is then added to the number of family members you are sponsoring (your parents, grandparents and any children of your parents or grandparents who are under 22 or otherwise dependent) PLUS the number of persons you and your co-sponsor may have sponsored in the past.

    To determine your income, Immigration and Citizenship Canada will look at your tax returns for the last three years. You can supply these yourself, or can give permission for them to access your notices of assessment directly through Canada Revenue Agency.

  • Can I sponsor my stepfather or stepmother as my parent?

    No. Since step-parents and step-grandparents are not related to you biologically or through adoption, they cannot be sponsored.

  • Can I sponsor my adoptive parents?

    Yes. If your adoptive parents are not Canadian or Canadian permanent residents, you are allowed to sponsor them because they are related to you by adoption.

  • Can I sponsor my biological parents if I was adopted?

    No. When a person is adopted, the family relationship between the biological parent and child is considered broken. As a result, if you were adopted, you cannot sponsor your biological parents.

  • If I was adopted by someone in Canada but then had that adoption revoked, can I sponsor my biological parents?

    No. Citizenship and Immigration Canada specifically states that individuals who were adopted and then get their adoption revoked for the purpose of sponsoring a biological parent will not be allowed to do so.

  • Who cannot be a sponsor?

    Individuals who owe money on a previous sponsorship undertaking, an immigration loan, a court ordered support payment, or an immigration performance bond cannot be a sponsor until those debts are paid.

    As well, the following individuals are also not eligible to be sponsors:

    • Individuals in prison
    • Undischarged bankrupts
    • Individuals in receipt of social assistance for a reason other than disability
    • Individuals who are subject to an immigration removal order
    • Individuals convicted of certain criminal offences
    • Individuals who have provided false information to Immigration
    • Individuals who have not met conditions of entry
  • If I am not qualified as a sponsor, can my parents or grandparents still get a Visa under the family class?

    If you are not qualified as a sponsor, your parents’ or grandparents’ Visa will be refused. However, because this is a Family Class application, you may be able to appeal the refusal to the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

    The Immigration Appeal Division acts like a court for immigration appeals. Even if you are not qualified as a sponsor, your parents may still be approved on what are called “humanitarian and compassionate grounds” by the Immigration Appeal Division.

  • Can I sponsor my parents or grandparents under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program if my family class application is refused or I lose the appeal?

    While parents and grandparents cannot be “sponsored” under the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, this program has certain streams that may allow relatives, including parents and grandparents, to qualify.

    While parents and grandparents can use the Provincial Nominee Program, they have to meet all of the other requirements of that program. If a parent or grandparent has been refused because of health or criminal record reasons, it is likely that they will be refused under the Provincial Nominee Program as well. However, if the application was refused because the sponsor did not make enough money, this cannot be used as a reason to refuse the parent or grandparent under the Provincial Nominee Program as long as the parent or grandparent has enough money as required by the Manitoba Provincial Nominee

  • Do my parents or grandparents have any other options to immigrate to Canada if the application is refused or I lose the appeal?

    Yes. Non-Canadians can apply under any immigration program to immigrate to Canada if they are qualified. If the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program does not work, there are a number of federal application programs that may work.

  • On the sponsorship form, it asks if the sponsorship is refused whether I should continue with the application or get a refund. What happens if I choose to get a refund?

    The very first question on the Application to Sponsor and Undertaking form is one of the most important questions in this process. This question asks what you want to do if you are found ineligible to sponsor.

    If you choose to check off the box that says that you want to withdraw your sponsorship and get a refund of all but $75 if your application is refused, you will NOT be able to appeal.

    If you choose not to accept the refund, your application may be refused but you may also be able to appeal the refusal. This is important because there are many ways to win an appeal even if you do not qualify as a sponsor. Because it takes years for a sponsorship application to be processed, it is usually a good idea to consider allowing the application to proceed since appealing the case may be faster than starting from the beginning.

  • Who can be my co-sponsor?

    If you do not make enough money to meet the minimum necessary income, you can ask your spouse or common-law partner to be your co-sponsor. This is the only person who can be your co-sponsor. They must meet all the eligibility requirements for sponsorship and provide proof of their income.

  • If I am not married or if my spouse and I cannot meet the minimum necessary income, can my brothers, sisters, and children co-sponsor with me?

    No, brothers, sisters and children cannot co-sponsor. If you have a problem meeting the minimum necessary income, it may be best to figure out which of your siblings or children is willing and best qualified to be a sponsor.

  • What are my obligations and the obligations of my co-sponsor when we sign the sponsorship undertaking agreement?

    Sponsors and co-sponsors agree as part of the immigration application to be financially responsible for their relatives for 10 years after their relative becomes a permanent resident. This obligation cannot be cancelled even if you change jobs, become unemployed, decide to go back to school, or get divorced.

    Sponsors and co-sponsors agree to provide food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health, including dental care and eye care. If the relative goes on social assistance, there are cases where the government has sued a sponsor to repay the amounts paid out by social assistance.

  • If my spouse is a co-sponsor and we get divorced before my parents get their Visa, how does this affect my sponsorship application?

    If a co-sponsor’s sponsorship is withdrawn because of divorce, separation or any other reason, an assessment will be made to see if you make the minimum necessary income. If you do not make the minimum necessary income on your own, your sponsorship application will be refused.

  • How long does the entire process take?

    Immigration and Citizenship provides the following time estimates for processing applications (as of March 2020):

    • Sponsorship: 20-24 months
    • Permanent residence card: 13-24 days
    • Citizenship: 12 months

    Keep in mind that more complex applications, or applications from individuals from certain countries may be subject to longer processing times. For more up to date processing time estimates, visit Immigration and Citizenship’s website:

  • Can parents and grandparents visit Canada while their applications are being processed?

    Yes, but if your parents or grandparents need a Temporary Resident Visa to travel to Canada, this can be challenging.

    Citizenship and Immigration Canada recognizes that visitors to Canada can come to Canada for a temporary visit but still have the intent to immigrate to Canada permanently. This is known as “dual intent”. If a visitor has dual intent, they should be allowed into Canada.

    In addition, Canada has a policy that is supposed to give guidance to immigration officers who process applications for parents and grandparents who want to visit. If your parents or grandparents meet the requirements of this policy, they should be allowed to visit.

  • What happens if Immigration and Citizenship Canada has questions as to whether I am related to my parents?

    On occasion, questions can arise regarding your biological relationship with your parents. This is most common in situations where birth records have been destroyed or are seen as unreliable.

    In these situations, Citizenship and Immigration Canada may request that DNA testing be done. These tests will have to be done at your cost and must be arranged through Citizenship and Immigration. Private testing that is arranged without the involvement of Citizenship and Immigration Canada may not be accepted by the Government of Canada.

  • What are some of the reasons that applications can be refused?

    Applications can be refused for a number of reasons. If an application is refused because of the sponsor, the most common reason is that the sponsor and any co-sponsor does not meet the minimum necessary income. Another reason is if the sponsor is found to be ineligible to sponsor.

    If the parent or grandparent is refused, the most common reason is because the parent or grandparent has a medical condition that would be expensive to treat in Canada. This is known as being “medically inadmissible” for “excessive demands”. Other reasons a parent or grandparent application can be refused include: the parent or grandparent has a past criminal record, is a security threat or made a misrepresentation on their application.

  • What can I do if my parent’s or grandparent’s application is refused?

    Because parents and grandparents are members of the “Family Class”, you may have a right to appeal the refusal to the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.